Romania has a population of 19.3 million and, despite being a member of the EU, is struggling with wealth distribution with 14 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. The government has limited resources to allocate to the deafblind population; it is estimated there are 387,000 people living with mild forms of deafblindness, and over 38,000 living with severe forms of deafblindness.
Sense International (Romania) (SIR) started working in Romania in 1999 and was officially established in 2001. Because there were no services available at this time, people with deafblindness and multi-sensory impairment (MSI) – particularly children – were often misdiagnosed, and placed in inappropriate institutions or hidden away from public view.
Due to the advocacy efforts of SIR deafblindness was legally recognised in Romania in 2006 as a distinct disability and appropriate services for deafblind people have been established.
Education and rehabilitation
In partnership with the Ministry of National Education we have:
- Embedded the education of children with deafblindness in the Romanian national system of education.
- Ensured high quality education for over 500 children with deafblindness in Romania in 15 schools.
- Trained over 200 special education teachers in deafblindness, developing a team of 10 national trainers in the field of deafblindness.
- Coordinated the development of a national curriculum for children with Deafblindness and Multisensory Impairments
Responding to the concerns of parents and teachers about the future of their children after leaving the education system, SIR has developed eight vocational centres – pilot workshops - where young people can learn a trade in a safe environment. We have:
- Established eight vocational centres (five for typography, one greenhouse and one in a marzipan factory).
- Supported 173 young people with deafblindness to learn a marketable trade.
- Trained 63 vocational teachers in the field of deafblindness.
- Supported two partner schools to provide state authorised courses in the field of digital typography.
Advocacy and campaigning
- We constantly lobby and advocate for the rights of people with deafblindness. A crucial moment for SIR and for the life of people with deafblindness in Romania was when deafblindness was recognised as a distinct disability in 2006.
- We have developed www.sensabilitate.ro, the first and only website in Romania accessible for people with multisensory impairments. This offers a pool of resources for people with deafblindness, parents and teachers and a platform for the advocacy efforts of the organisation.
We support newborn babies and small children with deafblindness, hearing and/or visual impairments to benefit from diagnosis, rehabilitation and early intervention. We have:
- Provided services to 234 children in four early intervention support centres.
- Facilitated the hearing screening of 103,581 newborns and visual testing of 17,049 children.
- Trained 25 specialists in education, health and social services in the field of early intervention.
- Coordinated the development of an early intervention curriculum for the rehabilitation of children with deafblindness/MSI.
Work in progress
- We will continue to promote the rights of people with deafblindness through advocacy activities involving local and national authorities.
- We will involve teachers and specialists working with children with deafblindness, parents, adults and young people with deafblindness with the aim of developing the Romanian Network for Deafblindness – an informal network to promote and fight for the rights of children and adults with deafblindness.
- We will take the necessary steps for the young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments from the vocational workshops to access employment, by creating links between schools, young people and employers.
“The Early Intervention Support Centre developed by Sense International (Romania) has been like a ray of sunshine for us. The specialists there helped us a lot, but most importantly, made us look at our child differently: he is capable, beautiful, surprising, curious, attentive, photogenic… It is wonderful, a story is written there, and my child is the main character!” Elena, Mother of Teo.
Discover how our work has helped some deafblind children and adults around the world lead better and fuller lives.
Denisa was born prematurely and deaf, with congenital cataracts and severe heart problems. Denisa began early intervention in 2007, when she was two and a half years old. She was among the very first children benefitting from this type of service in Oradea, a city in the North West of Romania.
Ioana was born with a series of health problems that doctors struggled to diagnose. She seemed unresponsive and doctors confirmed she has little sight or hearing. Ioana and her mother visit the Early Intervention Centre on a weekly basis, benefitting from physiotherapy and highly specific sensory stimulation therapies.
First published: Thursday 27 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 1 November 2019